Strikes and protests by workers created a very dangerous and frustrating situation for Disney Park Guests.
For the most part, Disney Parks are open year-round to Guests. Disney magic keeps no stopwatch, and the parks’ open schedules make it possible for individuals and families to visit when it’s most convenient for them–barring, of course, the wretched Park Pass Reservation System.
But there are things that can impede operations, even at a Disney theme park resort. Hurricanes like those in late 2022–Ian and Nicole–can render a Disney Park helpless against the dangers of storm surge, high winds, and flooding, thus leaving Disney with no choice but to close to ensure the safety of Guests and Cast Members. But other things can impede the parks’ operations as well–or make things difficult for Guests–things that cannot be forecast and about which Disney can do nothing.
Such has been the case this week at Disney’s fourth theme park resort, Disneyland Paris, which is in the middle of its 30th anniversary celebration.
Disneyland Paris features two unique parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Its iconic castle is Sleeping Beauty Castle, though it’s very different from the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Resort in California.
Reuters reports that strikes brought on by pension reform have led to transportation nightmares as flights have been canceled, and train traffic remains severely impaired in major cities across France. The reform involves the push for the retirement age in the French nation to be delayed from the current age of 62 years old to the age of 64 years old. And–as expected–the change has been met with massive pushback, especially from union workers who, understandably, don’t relish the thought of 24 months more work before they can receive retirement benefits.
But when faced with the prospect of strikes, riots, and protests, the French government reportedly promised to stand its ground and urged citizens not to engage in activities that could “paralyze” the country’s operations.
On Thursday, however, despite the government’s pleas, strikes by union workers interrupted train services, as well as commercial flight schedules, and schools and businesses were not immune to the disruption. According to CNN, more than one million people protested against the French government’s plans to bump the retirement age by two years. The French Interior Ministry puts the number of protesters closer to 1.2 million.
Protests took place in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes, and Nice, and in some areas, transportation services were completely non-operational because of the tension-filled scenario. In Paris alone, there were more than 80,000 protesters, some of whom took to throwing bottles, rocks, and dangerous fireworks at police officers. Disney’s park in France is located in the Paris suburb of Marne-la-Vallée, but even Disney magic couldn’t keep the strikes from disrupting things for Guests of Disneyland Paris.
The Eiffel Tower was closed on Thursday, though Disneyland Paris remained open to Guests. But the French Disney theme park resort attempted to keep Guests aware of the situation, as well as of the difficulties they could face in securing transportation away from the resort at the end of the day.
Throughout the day on Thursday, the P. A. system inside the parks played an announcement for Guests, related to the strikes.
“Your attention, please,” the announcement begins. “Due to ongoing strikes, the train traffic on the AER A to and from Marne-la-Vallee Station is limited. Therefore, we suggest you check the transportation schedules in order to plan your departure accordingly. We hope you enjoy the rest of your day at Disneyland Paris.”
You can hear the announcement by clicking the play button below.
The strike announcement that is playing every hour or so across Disneyland Paris pic.twitter.com/z623rZCYn7
— ???Nate’s mystery trip (@nateyagi) January 19, 2023
Very simply put, Guests could have quickly found themselves trapped outside the gates at Disneyland Paris with limited options for getting back to their points of origin. The announcement reportedly played on repeat throughout the day so that Guests wouldn’t be caught unaware of the situation and so that they could attempt to plan ahead accordingly.
According to France24, the protests took place into the night, as many of the rioters danced and sang along to the song, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, in a message to the French government that was clear: “This retirement reform is unfair, and we won’t stand for it.” At this time, it is unclear whether the French government will make any changes to its plans for raising the retirement age in France following the protests across the country on Thursday.
Both parks at Disneyland Paris–Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park–remain open to Guests at this time.